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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr MCCALL - Would they reduce the allowance for Ministers?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I do not think so, and if I wanted a few hours' amusement I would like to be present when members of the party opposite were being picked for the Cabinet positions. I admit that the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) is one which might very well be taken into consideration. There are points in regard to extending social services which are falling upon the Commonwealth .Government that make it necessary to consider things of the character advocated by the honorable member; but those are not things that we can go into to-night. Repeated statements have been made by the Opposition that Ministers do not spend enough of their time in this House, and, on the contrary, that Ministers do not spend enough time in their departments. Both statements have been made during the debate to-night. I think it will be agreed that it is physically impossible for Ministers to be on the frontbench in this chamber and in their departments at one and the same time.

Mr Forde - Parliament has sat only 5S days since the last elections.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - It is not a question of the number of days Parliament sits. I do not think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) will suggest that Ministers are disengaged during those portions of the year when Parliament is not sitting. From my own experience as a private member, I found that every private member can be very fully and definitely occupied in the discharge of duties relative to his position as a member even when Parliament is not sitting.

Mr Forde - Some Ministers are fully occupied and some are not.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Let us go through the list. I think honorable members will admit that the Prime Minister has his .hands full, and that the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) has a pretty onerous job at present' and has only one Assistant Minister to help him. And surely no fair-minded man would suggest that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is underworked. When the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill was being debated he was sadly overworked.

Mr Forde - 'Could not the AttorneyGeneral do more?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The duties of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) do not consist merely of sitting on the front bench. It is his duty to examine every piece of legislation which is introduced into this Parliament. He has a difficult and exacting task. Should faulty bills be brought before this House, the Attorney-General would be held responsible. Consequently he is busily occupied in preparing legislation for Parliament.

Mr Forde - Nonsense! There are many bills that tho Attorney-General never sees until they are introduced.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The legal members of the Opposition know that he has much to do.

The duties which fall to the lot of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hughes) are of such an exacting nature as to require consistent study on his part-

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! Noisy interjections are disorderly.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The bill as introduced provides for one additional Minister of State. Opposition members have, no doubt, realized that the Cabinet as reconstructed recently contains twelve full Ministers instead of ten as formerly, and that there are now three Assistant Ministers instead of four. In other words, there is one more member in the present Cabinet, than in the Cabinet of eight or nine days ago. An examination of the bill will demonstrate that the amount available for each member of the present Cabinet will not be as great as was available for each member of the previous Cabinet.

Mr Baker - Provision is being made for two Ministers.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - If the honorable member studies the bill carefully, he will find that he will have to revise practically the whole of the statement that he made to-night.

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